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Jennifer

Galt's Gulch had no government?

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45 posts in this topic

Right, I confused the two. Whoops.

But you are spot on that they were planning to return, otherwise the new clause makes no sense...

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Suppose John borrowed money from Hugh and completely forgot about it. ( real life example). When Hugh approaches John to collect his money, John honestly denies that he ever borrowed it-maybe he became a bit senile. Here you need the procedure of objective proof-means to identify the truth. That could be a verification of certain documents, a subpoena of witnesses, assesstment of John mental state etc...In other words you need a set of objective laws which only government as an independent legislation authority could provide.

I'm not so sure that this doesn't support my case. My 'case' being that a rational egoist

is ultimately above the law. I use 'above' most advisedly, in the sense that

he only needs the law for his own protection, never for others 'protection' (etc.)

from him. (I am aware this is an extremist position, possibly radical, but I've

seen nothing in Rand's writing that contradicts it, and plenty that confirms it. I admit

too, that it's not likely to be readily accepted by a libertarian.:))

"Above", even more critically, relates to the fact that this egoist is a one-man "judge

and jury" who would be far speedier and more rigorous in impartially finding out for himself

the truth of any disagreement - than either his accuser, or the law could.

And no, of course in a country where individual rights (or any rights) are upheld,

it would be badly wrong and irrational of him to over-ride or ignore the working of

the legal system.

And yes, I completely accept the "fallibility and non-omniscience" principle.

Nobody is 100% rational all the time, I believe: mistakes will be made, and accidents

happen for any rational egoist.

The point is it would be a matter of self-interested integrity and pride for him to discover the objective truth, independently. Followed by restitution, amends, and taking responsibility, when necessary.

Back to Galt's Gulch, where all men and women have a common belief in objective reality (plus being of

good-will and good faith) and I think even the most unusual examples of reduced cognitive capability

(of one person forgetting his debt) would be resolved privately and amicably.

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Hey, that's my scenario you are tweaking! Only I know what happened!

Seriously, the flaw is in "he has no reason to take John's word..."

Remember, we are in a rational mini-society, in which all inhabitants presume

that all men and women are rational, just like themselves.

I'm pretty sure your original scenario was Galt's Gulch, the fictional hideaway from the novel Atlas Shrugged, not a rational mini-society you retroactively define as you wish.

Where in AS does it say that all inhabitants presume that all men and women are rational just like themselves?

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I'm not so sure that this doesn't support my case. My 'case' being that a rational egoist

is ultimately above the law. I use 'above' most advisedly, in the sense that

he only needs the law for his own protection, never for others 'protection' (etc.)

from him. (I am aware this is an extremist position, possibly radical, but I've

seen nothing in Rand's writing that contradicts it

We better fix that:

But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.

That's from a chapter of Ayn RAnd's The Virtue of Selfishness titled The Nature of Government.

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We better fix that:

But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.

That's from a chapter of Ayn RAnd's The Virtue of Selfishness titled The Nature of Government.

The back-ground for me, was always a rational mini-society (which I equate with the Gulch)

where, may I remind you, no government existed. In anything larger, and longer-established, rule

of objective law would become essential.

So my argument is not pro-anarchical, nor contra-government, by any means - it is pro-moral

and pre-legal.

Apparently you missed my sentence: "And no, of course in a country where individual rights

...it would be badly wrong and irrational to...override the working of the legal system."

My reference throughout has been to "why government where none is needed?" -

i.e.,consistently apropos Galt's Gulch. My point is that since rights and objective laws are

derived from morality, an Objectivist whose highest concern is morality, acts primarily from

his morality, only secondarily from individual rights, if at all.

As for your query: Where in AS does it say all inhabitants...? etc

Where doesn't it say? What are they all doing there (invited, mainly) if they are not

rational? The implicit in Rand's fiction is as important as the explicit.

I suggest reading between the lines.

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As for your query: Where in AS does it say all inhabitants...? etc

Where doesn't it say? What are they all doing there (invited, mainly) if they are not

rational? The implicit in Rand's fiction is as important as the explicit.

I suggest reading between the lines.

I suggest reading the lines.

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I suggest reading the lines.

:) If that's all your response, I assume you now recognize the distinction

between Rand's Galt's Gulch in AS, and her "Nature of Government", but are too

modest to voice it!

"Art is long", concretism or literalism does it no justice.

Edited by whYNOT

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:) If that's all your response, I assume you now recognize the distinction

between Rand's Galt's Gulch in AS, and her "Nature of Government", but are too

modest to voice it!

"Art is long", concretism or literalism does it no justice.

Damn it, you're too clever for me. I made my post a single line, but you still managed to prove yourself right by reading it "between the lines".

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Haha! Good One.

(I took a course in reading between the letters...)

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This discussion is becoming a bit rationalistic. In reality even in the Galt Gulch with its highly selected population of rational egoists one could become mentally sick and has to be restricted or one may need to fight a foreign invasion which a use of retaliatory force. Or one may need a sofisticated set of objective laws in order to resolve complecated dispute in which many people could be involved. and so on and so far...There is no escape from the legislation process and therefore from the body of legislators which is in fact government. However, it is obvious that simple matters could be resolved on the grass root level.

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Moreover, people have a misconception that government's function is to run things around . It doesn't do it and never did. It even doesn't run police, courts and army-police officers, judges who suppose to be independent and military commanders do. More than that, government even doesn't pay for these services. It cannot because it doesn't create any wealth. What government in facts does are only two things-it provides set of laws by which police, courts and military operate and uses coercion to make people to pay for this. In Objectivist society the first government function- a legislation would be preserved since this is its only essential and legitimate function. The second would be abolished-all funding will be voluntary. The voluntary funding will ensure that government's legislation is objective-people usually don't pay to be abused. Such a government has a proper place even in the Galt's Gulch.

Edited by Leonid

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This discussion is becoming a bit rationalistic. In reality even in the Galt Gulch with its highly selected population of rational egoists one could become mentally sick and has to be restricted or one may need to fight a foreign invasion which a use of retaliatory force. Or one may need a sofisticated set of objective laws in order to resolve complecated dispute in which many people could be involved. and so on and so far...There is no escape from the legislation process and therefore from the body of legislators which is in fact government. However, it is obvious that simple matters could be resolved on the grass root level.

We're arguing oranges and onions here.

If there was supposed to be government in Galt's Gulch, why didn't the author 'create' one?

In fact what a great opportunity to illustrate in art the workings of individual rights and objective law -

a society she has not portrayed anywhere in her fiction.

It seems clear to me the simplest explanation is the truest: Rand showed how rational men could live

together in harmony. (In a select, voluntary group.)

"We are not a state here, not a society of any kind - we're just a voluntary association of men

held together by nothing but every man's self-interest. I own the valley and I sell the land to others,

when they want it. Judge Narragansett is to act as our arbiter, in case of disagreements. He

hasn't had to be called upon as yet. They say that it's hard for men to agree. You'd be surprised how easy it is - when both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the

other and that reason is their only means of trade." [AS p.686]

So, no need for government, in THIS situation. (btw, a military for defence is out of this context -

which is limited to interpersonal relationships by the inhabitants).

All along, my proposition has been that a rational egoist holds himself to objective standards higher

(or, let's say 'in advance of') objective law and individual rights. Not, I repeat NOT, that

he will not abide by that law.

Then let's assume two- or more - such rational individuals in some sort of dispute. Their common goal

is to find the truth, without fear or favor. No need of legal defence, witnesses, prosecution

or whatever, because -simply- they are all on the same side. If one man has erred, he'll be the first

to speak up and assume responsibility.

About the only way this may be remotely rationalistic as you say, is because it is so unknown to us in our litigious, "evasive", subjectivist societies. Though, it's sure to have happened quietly in rare cases, even now.

By definition, a rational egoist is highly self-aware and self-responsible - his judgment upon

himself is pre-eminent, in keeping with his observance of all existence. That he presumes the same

of other people(until demonstrated otherwise) is the source of his benevolence.

"You'd be surprised how easy it is..." [Mulligan, AS]

"When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter." [Galt, AS]

(It's been a good reason to crack open 'Atlas' again after so long.)

:)

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Exactly in order to find the truth man needs a proper tool-a set of objective laws. Consider for example scientific research-no scientist , no matter how rational he is would be able to do it without rigid objective protocol of conduct.. In order to sell land one needs a law which governs contractual agreement and prescribes the measures of its enforcement in the case of violation. It also has to stipulate what such a sale includes: for example does it include mineral rights? So it's not that simple even in the Galt Gulch. Another example-Dagny wasn't allowed to leave the Gulch, not even to communicate with the outside world. Can one see this as an initiation of force? How one can resolve this without proper investigation based on the explicit objective philosophy of law? What if Dagny was taking Galt to court in order to get out? How such a court would operate without law? Sheer implicit rationality is not enough.

Edited by Leonid

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.... and I'm hoping somebody can provide

just one scenario which two highly rational men could not resolve on their own.

Isn't this very post an example of where "highly rational men" cannot resolve an issue? Or are the people who disagree with you irrational? I hope you understand that I'm not taunting you with this reply. The point is that this web site is full of examples of where people -- who hold VERY similar ideas --- have disagreements that remain unresovled.

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Leon,

You see where I'm headed with this? Our goal isn't a tiny "voluntary association" of

men, but ulimately a nation. If a small core of men could get on by rationality and good-

will (without government) the extrapolation of that into a full society, with a minimal

government, in the classic Randian tradition, could become a reality. No longer an abstract

ideal.

Naturally, I don't expect each and every citizen to be highly rational - but a

preponderance of 'reasonable realists' to make up the bulk of the population, would

ensure the stability and longevity of an Objectivist government.

Two critical and controversial elements would become less important, or indeed,

moot: monopoly of force, and taxation. Even a partly rational society (again,

bearing in mind the independence and self-sufficiency of the Gulch's inhabitants)

would need less involvement by police and arbitration by law i.e., individual rights

would be respected to a far larger degree, keeping government's size and power to

extremely low levels; second, voluntary fund-donation by such self-responsible, self-

interested citizens, should be a certainty.

(The necessity for private policing agencies you've been suggesting - which

I believe is based upon presently observed levels of rights' violations - would not be

essential, in this VERY different culture.)

I think Rand's vision starts from the morality of rational egoism of those few men in

Galt's Gulch, and from that 'micro' - to the 'macro' of a country - she perceived how

huge numbers of very different people could live properly as individuals. If a little

bunch of good men and women could do it without government, then so can many - however,

with objective law and individual rights. (Which is why I've been insistent on morality

preceding rights, which I know you fully agree with.)

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Isn't this very post an example of where "highly rational men" cannot resolve an issue? Or are the people who disagree with you irrational? I hope you understand that I'm not taunting you with this reply. The point is that this web site is full of examples of where people -- who hold VERY similar ideas --- have disagreements that remain unresovled.

You have got hold of a big one, there. It merits a thread all to itself: "Why can't Ojectivists

seem to agree?" or the like.

In this case, Leon and I are coming at the topic from different angles, is all - bottom up, and

top down (that some may call rationalistic!). Both are essential, of course, but it's a work in

progress. I guess reality will be the "final arbiter".

On fundamentals we're in close agreement.

Generally though, there could appear more discord than agreement amongst O'ists, which I

believe is not as bad as it seems. When a large-ish group of independent-minded people who each

have a (let's assume) 90% grasp of the philosophy get together, they're going to find a lot

to quarrel about over the remaining 10%. Call it the 'law of diminishing returns' in operation. The nearer you get, the tougher it is.

And that's before you get to applications and implementations...ouch!

Hey - we are all learning as we go along, and if no one seems convinced immediately by

another's argument, I think the true conclusions are absorbed, and integrated later.

New Buddha, I'd like to see this subject discussed openly, so go ahead and start it up.

("Highly" rational? No, I doubt I'm close - but much appreciated.)

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Isn't this very post an example of where "highly rational men" cannot resolve an issue? Or are the people who disagree with you irrational? I hope you understand that I'm not taunting you with this reply. The point is that this web site is full of examples of where people -- who hold VERY similar ideas --- have disagreements that remain unresovled.

Maybe you have heard a story about 4 blind men who were studying an elephant. Each of them touched different part of the elephant's body and described it as a whole animal. Even if all of them were rational people they would disagree. That what is happening on this thread. We need an integrated view in the true spirit of Objectivist philosophy, so I'll attempt to present it. I would start from the the undisputed and easily observable facts-all men, regardless of their explicit philosophy and the level of their rationality have basic survival needs- they have a need to act freely and independently in order to live. Coercion in any form is a hindrance. Therefore they need protection from the initiation of force against them. Such a protection could only come in the form of retaliatory force which could be effectively used only under the strict control of the objective law. Any association of the people, be it golf club, hotel, university or leisure resort ( which Galt Gulch in fact is) needs such a law. Thus is a need for the government as a body which discovers such a law and translates it to the myriads of practical applications. Even irrational people would quickly learn that a law which confirms to the human nature and recognizes their rights is much more better that subjective arbitrary and abusive law since on the very basic level they possess the sense of the ownership on their own life. The wide spread implementation of such a law on the grass root level therefore would necessarily create a culture of rational egoism. However at present government holds a coercive monopoly on the use of force because it's funding the law enforcement agencies and courts. The only way to prevent a possible government abuse of power and arbitrary legislation is to remove this monopoly. To do so one doesn't need to start a bloody civil war or even to go on strike. People simply should take over financing of the law enforcement, that is-to pay directly for their protection and not via some government bureaucrats whose only function is forcibly to collect money from the people in order to pay law enforcement to implement his will which could be rational but also could be arbitrary. The same time people may demand tax return on the money they voluntary paid to the law enforcement agencies. These agencies, directly supported by people would refuse to implement any law which could undermine freedom and rights. The same time people can demand and receive money they voluntary paid for their protection as a tax return. That how we can get there-to achieve fully free voluntary funded Objectivist society. To whom, who may claim that I described Utopia, I want to point out that this process is already started. The transition to such a society should and would begin not in Objectivist ivory towers, not even from the reading of Atlas Shrugged but as a result of confrontation of the very human nature with current irrational system of government. In the simple words people will go private in every field which government considers as its own.They will do it simply in order to survive. Due to this process the philosophy of Objectivism will provide them with powerful tools of explicit understanding of their actions. That will ensure that such a society will prevail for ever.

Edited by Leonid

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Here are some relevant quotes I came across while reading the novel right now for the third time:

When Galt talks to Dagny in the valley, while recuperating from the plane crash:

“Miss Taggart,” he said, “we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind.

[…]

That’s our market and that’s how it works for us— but that was not the way it worked in the outer world.

So a free market with no formal government.

Mulligan:

We are not a state here, not a society of any kind— we’re just a voluntary association of men held together by nothing but every man’s self-interest. I own the valley and I sell the land to the others, when they want it. Judge Narragansett is to act as our arbiter, in case of disagreements.

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Judge Narragansett has the unwritten governing principles that all have agreed to abide by via his decisions in cases of disagreements.

At the end of the novel, he is observed amending a formal written document of governing principles.

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.

In May of 1964, Rand wrote a letter to Prof. John O. Nelson at the University of Colorado. The letter includes the following paragraph:

“I must mention that Galt’s Gulch is not an organized society, but a private club whose members share the same philosophy. It exemplifies the basic moral principles of social relationships among rational men, the principles on which a proper political system should be built. It does not deal with questions of political organization, with the details of a legal framework needed to establish and maintain a free society open to all, including dissenters. It does not deal with specifically political principles, only with their moral base. (I indicate that the proper political framework is to be found in the Constitution, with its contradictions removed.)”

Letters of Ayn Rand,  Michael Berliner, editor (1995, 626)

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